Attorney’s Disability Claims Fail After Ex-Boyfriend Sends Emails to Plan Administrator
Terri Truitt, an attorney, claimed that she suffered from pain that prevented her from working. Truitt received long-term disability benefits from Unum Life Insurance Company of America. After several years, Truitt’s former boyfriend sent Unum emails asserting that, while claiming to be disabled, Truitt was involved in activities that were inconsistent with her disability. Unum terminated Truitt’s benefits and sought over $1 million in reimbursements for benefits paid. The district court determined there was substantial evidence to support denial of benefits; however, the denial was an abuse of discretion because Unum did not “consider the source” of the emails. The Fifth Circuit reversed, holding that in evaluating whether a plan administrator has wrongfully denied benefits under ERISA, the burden is on the claimant to discredit evidence relied on by the plan administrator. The Court vacated and remanded the district court’s award of attorney’s fees to Truitt.
Truitt v. Unum Life Ins. Co. of America, No. 12-50142 (5th Cir. Sept. 6, 2013).comments powered by Disqus